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Match Preview: Derbyshire Falcons v Kent Spitfires, CB40, Tues 31st July

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30 July 2012

Derbyshire Falcons v Kent Spitfires, Clydesdale Bank 40 - Group C

County Ground, Derby, 31 July 2012 – 4.10pm start

A busy period of cricket continues for Kent tomorrow as they make the trip from Southampton to Derby for their latest vital CB40 Group C clash against the Falcons, in front of the Sky television cameras.

With six games to play, the Spitfires still harbour hopes of securing a semi-final berth with Rob Key’s men currently sitting in fourth place - having taken seven points from their first six outings. Immediately above them are their latest opponents; the side from the east Midlands have taken seven points from their eight games.

Sussex Sharks lead the way on 12 points, but if Kent can win their games in hand they will put themselves in contentions at the top of the group. Only the group winners are guaranteed a place in the last four with the final place going to the best runner-up across the three divisions. With that in mind, every fixture is important for the Spitfires.

Kent haven’t completed a game in this competition since the beginning of June with rain taking full control of their CB40 schedule. That day, three wickets for Mark Davies, and an unbeaten half-century from Sam Billings, secured a thumping ten-wicket success. Since then, abandonments against the Unicorns, Northants and Sussex have halted the Spitfires’ progress but they are still in contention to launch a qualifying bid.

Derbyshire enter the game in decent form having despatched the Unicorns and Yorkshire Carnegie in their previous two games. The win against Yorkshire was particularly impressive as the Falcons chased down 239 to win the game. They were largely indebted to on loan wicket-keeper Richard Johnson for the victory. The Warwickshire gloveman hit 79, off just 74 balls, to secure a three wicket win and move Wayne Madsen’s side up to third.

Last time the two sides met in CB40 cricket, in Derby, was last season when the hosts sealed a 31 run win, thanks to a century from New Zealander Martin Guptill.

Batting first, the home side got off to a brisk start as Guptill and Chesney Hughes (33) added 59 for the first wicket. However, Kent soon bounced back to reduce the Falcons to 79 for three, before Greg Smith joined Guptill at the crease and the duo soon took the game away from the visitors with a stand of 129, inside 19 overs.

South African Smith hit 68, off 57 balls, but it was Guptill who stole the show. His knock of 102, from 109 balls, included twelve fours and a six. A late flurry of wickets – mainly sparked by Azhar Mahmood (4-57) – reduced the damage somewhat but the home side still finished on a daunting 249 for nine.

In reply, the Spitfires, missing their usual opening pair of Key and Joe Denly, lost wickets at regular intervals and, after slumping to 121 for six, never looked like threatening the Falcons’ total. Big-hitter Darren Stevens provided hope momentarily, with a typically dashing 65, while James Tredwell (37) kept the Spitfires up with the run-rate but, in the end, they were bowled out in the 35th over for 218 as Jonathan Clare claimed three wickets for the home side.

Team news to follow.